Editorial | Top six study tips for finals


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

Students study on the first floor of Hillman Library.

By The Pitt News Editorial Board

Thanksgiving break was fun and all, but now it’s time for a generally miserable couple of weeks as we trudge our way through final papers, projects and exams. Luckily, we’ve compiled some of our favorite study tips to make this process ever so slightly less stressful — reading this isn’t a bad way to put off doing work either.

  1. Throw your phone across the room — seriously 

Not hard enough to damage it of course, this is about distance — put some between yourself and your phone when it’s time to bang out that assignment you’ve been putting off. It’ll be far easier to stay focused on the task at hand when you don’t see that little glow every time you get a text, and won’t it be nice to have nobody bothering you, if only just for a moment? Just make sure you’re logged into Duo Mobile beforehand, otherwise it might sink the whole operation.

  1. Reward yourself after a study session

Speaking of rewards, food makes a great one. Whether it’s a little snack from home or some fine Oakland dining, psychology shows that positive reinforcement can motivate us to study again in the future. Having a carrot on the end of the stick can make your next study session a bit easier to endure, and puts a down payment on making future ones even easier.

  1. Take a break

Sometimes we don’t absolutely crush a study session, get a bit ambitious with that day’s to-do list or find ourselves clueless with an exam the next morning. As tempting as it is to pull an intense all-nighter, stepping away from your work for a few minutes might be the best solution. Watch an episode of a mindless TV show, or cash in on that snack break — you’ve earned it. If you’re feeling particularly adherent to psychologists’ recommendations, take a walk in Schenley Park to clear your mind. After this break — which hopefully hasn’t slipped from a few minutes to a few hours — you’ll be able to better focus on the academic task at hand.

  1. Break up your work into manageable chunks

Your food reward will be unattainable if you need to study for five consecutive hours to get it. Defining chunks of work is an effective and less chaotic way of taking breaks that can make larger projects a little less panic-inducing.

  1. Use your procrastination for good

We wouldn’t recommend relying solely on this strategy, but using the dread that accompanies writing a final paper or studying for a stressful exam can be a decent motivator to get other tasks done. It’s funny how the apartment always needs a good cleaning when deadlines are approaching. This is also a killer, and perhaps the only, way to get OMETs done. We’re not sure what psychologists have to say on this one, but we’d venture to guess they’d disapprove.

  1. “It is what is is” is a fine motto

You might get clobbered on an exam in the next couple of weeks. You might have done better if you studied for just a few more hours. You also might have to consider your own well-being, and balance that against your schoolwork. So if there’s at least a passing chance your head might explode from stress, this is your invitation to pack it up for the night.